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A diverse group of protesters demonstrating against recent police shootings in Anaheim was split into different factions and eventually dispersed after police officers blocked their march to Disneyland.
Protestors began arriving around 10 a.m. at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Broadway. By noon, several hundred were gathered in front of police headquarters just down the street from the intersection. The protest’s size and strength peaked around 1:30 p.m., when several hundred protestors were vigorously chanting, playing drums and taunting police officers.
Police presence was heavy, with hundreds of officers spread throughout the immediate area. SWAT officers, armed with AR-15 assault rifles and clad in military-style fatigues, surveyed the protestors from the police headquarters’ roof. Other officers clung to patrolling unmarked police vehicles.
It was the ninth consecutive day of protests after 25-year-old Manuel Diaz was shot and killed by police while apparently unarmed and fleeing by foot in a poor Latino neighborhood known as Anna Drive. Another young Latino man was shot and killed the next day. A photo of his body taken after the shooting shows a gun nearby.
There have been six police shootings this year, five of them fatal.
Simmering anger at what many young Latinos say is a racist police department exploded in a violent confrontation with police July 24. About 1,000 demonstrators clashed with officers, set fires, kicked police cars, threw bottles and rocks and broke windows at downtown businesses.
But unlike that confrontation, few Anaheim residents attended Sunday’s protests. Instead, the crowd was composed of a variety of groups, most coming from outside the city, including various Occupy groups, Anonymous, socialist organizations, Kelly’s Army and Anaheim Cruzaders.
The majority of the protestors began to march south on Harbor Boulevard toward Disneyland around 2:30 p.m., but they were blocked by police and splintered into several groups. Police Sgt. Bob Dunn told The Orange County Register that the blockade was set up to prevent protesters from disrupting nearby freeway traffic.
Protesters carried signs with messages ranging from critical to profane. One sign read, “All cops are bastards.” Another proclaimed, “No more killer cops! Better training! More experience!”
Some protestors chanted “No justice, no peace.” Others simply yelled, “[expletive] the police.”
Several protesters wrote explicit messages with chalk on the police department parking lot. By the end of the protest, the majority of the parking lot was covered in chalk drawings.
More radical protestors, who covered their faces and were shouting profanities and epithets at the police, argued with other protestors, including Theresa Smith, the mother of Caesar Cruz, who was shot and killed by Anaheim Police officers in 2009. She said the masked protesters needed to stop attempting to climb a wall at the police headquarters.
The police generally showed restraint, despite moments when tensions ran high. However, one protestor was nearly trampled by a mounted officer.
Several police agenies aided Anaheim, including Santa Ana, Cypress, Buena Park, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Officers said that they could not disclose how many departments were involved.
At least nine arrests were made, according to the Orange County Register.
— ADAM O’NEAL
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